To celebrate a simply stunning  year of live rock and metal rushonrock is bringing you the best of 2008 as we look back on the reviews that made the news.

Velvet Revolver @ Newcastle Carling Academy, March 19 2008

VELVET Revolver are the image of rock on Viagra.

In an age when cutting edge style all too frequently conquers true musical substance, the hottest act in Hollywood gloriously bucks the trend.

For sheer energy, aggression and fret-fuelled passion, VR are peerless. Oh, and they just happen to boast one of the most iconic musicians in the world in the shape of enduring guitar god Slash.

The Stoke-born star is not quite as powerful as the total sum of Velvet Revolver’s variously talented parts but he comes mightily close. It is impossible to avoid becoming transfixed by a massive stage presence as he rips seamlessly through raw riff after raw riff with all the enthusiasm of an ambitious teen.

Slash is truly comfortable without ever slipping into the comfort zone and it is little wonder he insists he is in this special band for the long haul. Alongside him the manic Scott Weiland continues to enhance his reputation as a frenzied frontman par excellence. There is the bare minimum of small talk in between an onslaught of anthems but that is not to say the former Stone Temple Pilots singer does not interact.

Weiland has an uncanny knack of becoming part of the crowd, embedding himself in your subconscious and ensuring the audience’s collective attention never wavers. Fresh out of rehab, he comes to life on stage.

As a precociously talented duo there can be few more relevant combinations in 2008 and if neither appear truly at ease belting out the Guns ‘N’ Roses classics Patience and It’s So Easy then there can be no criticism of the crowd-pleasing professionalism underpinning both numbers.

Those of us who can look beyond the past find equal pleasure in Big Machine or the fantastic, evocative Fall To Pieces – the latter begs the question why VR don’t go down the more mellow route more often.

But then there is nothing sedate about five men born to rock. From start to finish this essential event maintained a punishing pace and every note mattered. Especially for those of us mesmerised by the original guitar hero.

Simon Rushworth